18 of the best day trips from London with kids

Kew Gardens Richmond in the spring - best day trips from London with kids

Best day trips from London with kids

While there are an enormous amount of things to do in London, the UK has a lot more to offer its visitors.  But if you’ve only got limited time in the UK, basing yourself in the capital and taking day trips from London with kids is a good idea.

Your options for London day trips with kids is almost limitless but I’ve tried to include the most popular and family friendly London day trips in this post.  You can choose from stand-alone attractions, city trips or visits to some of England’s best castles and palaces.  All of them guarantee a fun filled day out and have plenty of things for kids to do.

I’ve also included links to suitable tours if you’re pressed for time and would like to combine seeing several of these attractions in one day, or if you’d simply like someone else to take care of logistics.

A note on using public transport for day trips from London

All of these day trips can be accessed by public transport, so no need to hire a car.  Usually travelling by train is the quickest way to get around.  For checking train times and booking train tickets to all of the below destinations use the Trainline website.  I would recommend booking your train tickets as much as a month in advance for the best prices, especially if you’re going to York.  If you leave it until the last minute then the cost can be eye watering.

So, read on to find out about the best day trips from London with kids… the only problem is which to choose!

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Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter

Hogwarts Castle, Warner Bros Studio Tour

The Warner Bros Studio Tour of the Making of Harry Potter (say that quickly) is a brilliant day out for anyone who’s enjoyed the Potter films – and may be surprisingly interesting for those who didn’t.  It’s one of the most highly rated tourist attractions in the UK and one of the best London day trips to take.  Kids and any Potter fan are absolutely guaranteed to love it.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is not to be confused with Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.  There are no rides here and you can’t walk though Hogsmeade going into all the shops.  It’s not exactly a tour either; instead this is an exhibition of the movie sets, costumes and props used in all eight Potter films.

Your day starts with a Great Hall walkthrough which then leads you into the rest of the exhibition.  It’s surprising how much of the film props were not CGI, and they’re all here for you to look at.  They’re mainly displayed on the sets themselves so you can take a close-up look at the Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore’s office, the Potions classroom, Malfoy Manor and more.  The highlight is a walk through the Forbidden Forest where Aragog and his eight-legged friends are waiting to eat – sorry, greet – you.

Read more about the experience here.

Tickets and how to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Tickets must be booked before you go to the studios, and as they sell out several months in advance, it might be better to buy a tour which includes transport to the studios at Leavesden.  Click here to book a tour.

If you get your tickets online then you’ll need to get the train from London Euston to Watford Junction, and then take a bus to the studios. A return journey on the shuttle bus will cost £2.50 and you have to pay in cash. Make sure you leave plenty of time for your journey!

Once you’re in, there is no time limit so I’d advise booking an early slot.  This way you can spend as much time as you like in the studios.  I’ve been twice and I’d say you need a bare minimum of two hours, three to not feel rushed and you can of course spend longer if you like!

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens Richmond in the spring - best day trips from London with kids

This is one for nature lovers.  Kew Gardens in Richmond is an easy day trip out from London’s centre.  It’s one of our absolute favourite gardens in the UK and we make the trip down from Gloucestershire fairly regularly (not as bad as it sounds, it’s a straight shot down the M4).

Kew Gardens is a great place to visit at any time of year, but I particularly love the spring blossoms.  The Cherry Tree Walk is spectacular if you hit it on the right day – luckily, we did!

There are many more attractions at Kew than just the plants (I say just, but there are some wonderful species at Kew including huge waterlilies; the Titan arum, or corpse flower; multicoloured miniature pineapples and much more).  The Temperate House has reopened after a 3 year restoration and it’s fabulous.  The neighbouring Palm House is somewhere to go to soak up some tropical scents; especially great on a chilly day.  To get some great views over Kew head to the also-just-restored Chinese pagoda, or the treetop walkway.  Kew Gardens also put on kids’ activities throughout the year, just check when you arrive to see what’s on.

There’s the beautiful Kew Palace to look around, and Queen Charlotte’s cottage – a rustic building straight out of Grimm’s fairytales, hidden away among the pine trees.  But perhaps my favourite indoor space at Kew is the Marianne North gallery; a complete collection of the intrepid Victorian traveller’s paintings hang in this gallery that she designed personally.

Honestly there’s so much to see and do at Kew that it’s impossible to cram it all into a single day, but I’d definitely recommend trying!

How to get to Kew Gardens

To reach Kew Gardens from central London take the tube’s District Line to Kew Gardens station.  The gardens are a short walk away.

You can buy your tickets on the gate or online in advance (this works out a little cheaper).  An adult ticket is around £18 and children aged 4 – 16 pay around £4.  For certain attractions such as the Chinese pagoda and land train you will need to book a time slot online in advance.

You can also book tickets through a third party, like Get Your Guide.  Click here to buy your tickets.

Or, if you’re buying a London Pass for London sightseeing, entry to Kew Gardens is included. Click here to get your London Pass. 

Opening hours are 10am to 6pm most days (closes earlier throughout the winter depending on daylight).

Legoland Windsor

Medieval Castle, Legoland

Most people will think of Windsor Castle when they hear Windsor, but small kids will probably be more interested in Legoland.  This theme park includes rides, water play areas, and of course, plenty of Lego displays (the Star Wars ones are very good) and even more to buy.

We visited Legoland with our very small kids and we think it is suitable for kids aged 3+.  Our daughter couldn’t go on most of the rides as she was under 1m tall so I wouldn’t recommend going if your kids are any smaller, especially as they will still have to pay for a full price ticket.

Tickets and tips for your visit to Legoland Windsor

Legoland is open from March to December.  In the summer months the park is open every day; opening days are mainly at weekends and during school holidays in the spring and autumn.  The park opens at 9.30am, rides start at 10am and the park’s closing times depend on daylight.

You can buy your tickets online in advance.  Keep an eye out for special offers as Legoland can be an expensive day out, with tickets costing from £32 per person.  Legoland is run by Merlin so Merlin pass holders go for free.

You should consider buying a Q-Bot pass which lets you skip the queues (they can take well over an hour).  Arrive for opening time, start at the furthest part of the park and use the queue app (available to download from the website linked above) to see which rides have the shortest queue.

To reach Legoland from London by train you can take the service to Windsor and Eton Riverside from London Waterloo – this takes an hour.  Alternatively you can travel to Windsor and Eton Central, changing at Slough, from London Paddington – this is the faster journey at just 30 minutes.

There is a shuttle bus service from both train stations, although this is not provided by Legoland and will cost you extra.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge with kids

Easily the most iconic London day trip on this list, Stonehenge is an interesting visit.  Built in Neolithic times, this ancient monument has captured imaginations for generations.  There’s an enduring mystery about the stones; who built them, why, and how are questions that are still being asked today, although researchers have a pretty good idea on how to answer them now.

Some might disagree but I don’t think the stones disappoint.  You can get fairly close to Stonehenge itself, although the days are long gone when you could touch them!  And there’s more to see than just the standing stones.  The museum is great for adults and older kids who want to learn more about Stonehenge’s origins and get a close-up look at Neolithic life.  There’s a reconstructed Neolithic village just outside, too, which my younger kids loved visiting – the homes are laid out with tools, cooking equipment and are a great way to lear about how these people would have lived.

Read more about what to expect at Stonehenge here.

Tickets, tours and information on how to get to Stonehenge

Stonehenge is open from 9.30am to 7pm during the summer, and 9.30am to 5pm in the winter. Last entry is 2 hours before the site closes.  You have to buy tickets in advance to guarantee entry and they come with a half hour timed entry slot.  Click here to buy your tickets.

You can reach Stonehenge using public transport; take a train from London Waterloo to Salisbury and transfer to the Stonehenge Bus Tour bus which will drop you off at the Visitor Centre.

You’ll need a couple of hours at the site so you can combine seeing Stonehenge with other attractions in the area.  Try adding in a visit to nearby Salisbury (where you can see the famous cathedral,)  or combining Stonehenge with a trip to Windsor Castle, Bath or Lacock, a beautifully preserved historic town near the Cotswolds, used in hundreds of films and TV shows including Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice. Read more about Lacock here.

Some of the best Stonehenge tours

If you’d rather someone else took care of the logistics of getting to Stonehenge for your entry slot, then take a look at these tours which depart from London.  Some of them combine Stonehenge with other sights included in this list – bargain!

Stonehenge half-day tour from London

This half day afternoon tour has extra time at Stonehenge so you won’t feel rushed.

Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath day trip from London

See the best of all three sights in a guided day trip from London.

Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Oxford day trip from London

An alternative to the option above, touring Oxford instead of Bath.

Stonehenge, Bath, Lacock and Avebury day trip from London

See the standing stone circle at nearby Avebury as well as Stonehenge, and add in picture-perfect Lacock and Bath as well.  A busy day but you’ll tick off some of the best sights in south-west England on this one!

There are plenty more options; take a look at the complete list here.

Historic Dockyards, Portsmouth

HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyards

Portsmouth might not be famed as the UK’s prettiest town; its architecture is mostly modern concrete blocks.  It’s on the south coast of England and its austere appearance is mainly due to Portsmouth’s importance during WW2 – it was flattened by bombing.  But you don’t go to Portsmouth to marvel at its architecture – you’ve got Bath, Cambridge, Oxford and York for that.

Down at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyards you can learn about Britain’s maritime heritage and the Royal Navy.  Several of Britains historic warships are displayed here, and you can tour them, along with a submarine, too.  The most famous ship here is HMS Victory, Admiral Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar (currently under restoration to stop her breaking under her own weight).  Other ships here include HMS Warrior and HMS M.33, and there are lots of museums and displays here too.  Family events run throughout the year; you can check on the website before you visit to see what’s on.

Adjacent to the Historic Dockyard is the wreck of the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s Tudor flagship which was lost in the Solent for centuries before being raised in 1982.  It’s housed in its own museum which isn’t included in the ticket for the Historic Dockyards.

A 10 minute walk away from the dockyards is the Spinnaker Tower for fantastic views over the south coast, and Gunwharf Keys shopping centre where you can also grab a bite to eat.

How to get to Portsmouth from London

Trains depart every 15 minutes from London Waterloo.  The journey will take you an hour and a half if you get a fast train, and you’ll want to get off the train at Portsmouth Harbour, not Portsmouth and Southsea.  The historic dockyards are very close to the train station.

Tickets for Portsmouth Historic Dockyards

Tickets for the Historic Dockyards can be bought on their website, or through third party suppliers.  Remember that this ticket won’t include the Mary Rose.

Opening times are 10am to 5pm in winter and 5.30pm in summer.

Best city day trips from London with kids

Many of the UK’s best towns and cities can be reached from London relatively easily.  You can have a great day out with kids in all of these cities; and as they can all be seen as day trips from London by train, you don’t have to worry about hiring a car.

Brighton

Royal Pavilion Brighton

Brighton is usually described as bohemian, or London by the sea.  There’s some truth to both descriptions and there isn’t really anywhere else like Brighton in the UK – this makes Brighton one of the top day trips from London with kids.

In Brighton you can experience traditional British seaside culture by visiting the Victorian era Brighton Pier.  Arcades and amusements galore will delight the kids (you might end up spending the whole day at the funfair).  Make sure you try some candy floss (cotton candy) and fish and chips is obligatory.

Brighton’s beach isn’t sandy but the pebbles are surprisingly comfortable so if you visit on a sunny day you’ll find the beach absolutely packed with sunbathers.  If you’re feeling really brave you can try swimming in the chilly sea!  Other activities include walking along the promenade, the Sea Life Centre, and shopping in Brighton’s quirky Laines.

The highlight of a visit to Brighton is the Royal Pavilion.  It’s interesting enough from the outside – the architecture is more Indian palace than anything British – but the inside is truly spectacular.  It’s probably the most ostentatiously decorated palace in the UK, and it has to be seen to be believed!

Read more about visiting Brighton with kids here, and peek inside the amazing Royal Pavilion.

How to get to Brighton from London

Brighton is only an hour and a half from London by train.  Trains depart every few minutes from London Victoria, or every 30 minutes from London Blackfriars.  Once you’re in Brighton it’s an easy walk downhill to the town centre.

Cambridge

Cambridge canals - best day trips from London with kids

Cambridge is a lovely city; often compared to Oxford, it’s smaller and arguably prettier.  Cambridge is primarily a university town and its colleges are architectural marvels (it was spared bombing in WW2 because the buildings were so admired).

The best way of seeing the college buildings is to hire a boat to punt yourselves along the river Cam, although families with smaller children might prefer to go on a guided tour with a pro punter as it’s harder than it looks!  Looking inside some of the college is recommended; King’s College chapel especially shouldn’t be missed.  For another view over Cambridge you could try climbing the tower at Great St Mary’s Church which will let you look out over the college buildings.

Try a museum, too.  The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences is full of fossils, rocks, ammonites and dinosaur skeletons.  Kids will also enjoy the Fitzwilliam Museum which is home to Egyptian mummies amongst other treasures.

Elsewhere there are some lovely green spaces perfect for picnics, (the Botanical Gardens are lovely) and Cambridge’s main shopping centre has some independent shops and a good market at the weekend.

Getting to Cambridge from London

Trains take under an hour from Kings’ Cross station.  Cambridge train station is about a 15 minute walk to the centre of town.

Bath

Pulteney Bridge, Bath. A must-see when you visit Bath.

Bath is probably our favourite city in the UK.  While a weekend (or even longer) is ideal for Bath, you can still reach Bath fairly easily for a day trip from London.

The whole centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its fabulous Georgian architecture that you won’t find anywhere else.  Make sure you find the Circus and the Royal Crescent, and look inside No1 Royal Crescent or the Jane Austen Centre for a glimpse into Regency life.  You can take a free walking tour from outside the cathedral.

The Roman Baths are also a city highlight.  One of the UK’s few hot springs is found here, and back in Roman times an enormous public bathing complex was built to take advantage, along with a temple to the goddess Minerva.  Look around the museum to see what’s left (a huge amount) and while you can’t bathe in the spring here, you can still taste the waters – a taste you’ll never forget!

Alternative activities include exploring Bath’s parks and gardens, and taking a boat trip on the river (pictured).

Check out our complete guide to Bath here.

How to get to Bath from London

To reach Bath from London take a train to Bath Spa from London Paddington.  Trains take a couple of hours so it’ll be a long day, but a worthwhile one.  As with travelling to York, I’d advise booking your train tickets in advance to get the best prices.

Oxford

Aerial view of Oxford, one of the best day trips from London

Oxford is a hugely popular family friendly day trip from London.  Its honey coloured colleges are world famous and although Cambridge is smaller and prettier, Oxford has more things for kids to do.

Oxford’s main draw for kids will be Harry Potter filming locations – try inside Christchurch college to see the inspiration for Hogwarts’ Great Hall; and the Divinity Hall at the Bodleian Library was used as Hogwarts’ hospital.  This is a good way of getting kids interested in the colleges!

Oxford also has lots of museums, many of which kids will enjoy.  The most famous of all of them is the Ashmolean which has a top 10 trail for children with short attention spans.  Elsewhere you could try the Oxford Museum of Natural History (basically a smaller version of the one in London), and the Pitt Rivers museum which is full of oddities such as shrunken heads.

Oxford’s famous Story Museum is closed for refurbishment but the Story Cafe is open Tuesdays to Fridays and you might be able to catch a performance (click the link to see what’s on).

If all the buildings and architecture get too much for the kids, take them to the Botanical Gardens and arboretum, which are the oldest in the UK. It’s also possible to go punting in Oxford, although personally I much prefer punting along the Cam in Cambridge.

How to get to Oxford from London

There are direct trains from London Paddington and London Marylebone.  On some of the journeys you might need to change at Reading.  The journey should take around an hour.

York

48 hours in York York Museum Gardens

York vies with Bath for our favourite city in England; it’s been run by Romans, Vikings, Saxons and Victorians.  There’s so much to do here that you’re going to have to be quite selective if you’re only visiting for a day.  As with Bath I’d recommend two days if you possibly can spare them.

Kids will love the museums in York – there’s the York Chocolate Story where you can make your own chocolate lollipop; the Jorvik Viking Centre, where you can get stuck into the sights and smells of Viking York; and there’s a recreated Victorian Street in the York Castle Museum by Clifford’s Tower.  Older kids might enjoy a trip to the York Dungeon, which is similar to the London dungeon but covers people like Guy Fawkes and Dick Turpin among many others.

For lunch, a trip to Betty’s tea rooms, a York institution, can’t be beaten.  But do plan your time carefully or you’ll have to queue!

After lunch take a walk around York’s city walls, visit York Minster – an imposing gothic edifice which is more than just a cathedral – there’s a tower you can climb for views over York, and a museum in the basement.  After you’ve done this, walk through the snickleways (tiny streets) of York, window shopping (buy some fudge!).  Don’t forget to find time to visit the Shambles which is a narrow street with twisting buildings that will definitely make your kids think of Diagon Alley (or Ankh-Morpork).

Read more about a visit to York with kids here.

Getting to York from London

You’ll need to be organised if you want to take a day trip to York from London.  High speed trains depart from London Kings’ Cross and take 1 hour 45 minutes.  You will want to take the earliest train you can to make the most of your day.

The sooner you book, the cheaper the fare – single fares can be as low as around £14 if you book a month in advance.  If you buy on the same day as you travel it’ll cost you nearly £200 for a same day return – don’t do this!

York’s train station is a short walk into the centre of town.

Paris

Paris with small kids Garden de Luxembourg

Yes, you can take a day trip from London to Paris! As with Bath and some of the other cities, if you’ve got longer than a day then I’d encourage more time, but if you’re pressed then you can absolutely see Paris in a day from London.

If you’ve only got a day in Paris then I’d recommend heading straight to the Eiffel Tower, and then taking a boat ride up and down the river to get to more attractions, like the Louvre, Notre Dame cathedral (or try the Sainte-Chapelle nearby).  Our kids’ favourite thing in Paris was the Luxembourg Gardens (pictured) where they had a great time pushing little sailing boats around the pond.  There’s also an enormous playground here which is guaranteed to keep the kids amused.

Don’t forget to stop for sweet treats – Paris is heaven for crepes, chocolate and more.

You can read our guide to Paris with small kids here.

How to get from London to Paris

To reach Paris from London you’ll need to book seats on the Eurostar.  Trains depart from London St Pancras and drop you off at Paris Gare du Nord.  You’ll need to go through airport-style security so arrive in plenty of time for your train.

Book as far in advance as you can for the best prices – off season the ticket prices can be as low as £30 one way; a bargain!  The Eurostar was fast and efficient when we took it to Paris, and it takes a little over two hours.

Alternatively if you don’t want to go it alone you can take a tour.  Click here to book a guided tour from London to Paris.

Stratford upon Avon

Mary Arden's Cottage Stratford Upon Avon Cotswolds with kids

Heading to the Cotswolds is a popular day trip from London. On the edge of the region you’ll find Stratford Upon Avon, famous for being the birthplace of Shakespeare.

In the centre of Stratford Upon Avon you can visit Shakespeare’s birthplace itself; a beautiful half-timbered building where you can learn about Shakespeare’s early life.  You can also visit Shakespeare’s New Place which is the site of the Bard’s home in later life and where he died; today there’s a beautiful garden which is planted to give you an idea of the original building.  Finally Hall’s Croft is where Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna lived, where you can look around her Jacobean home and Tudor medicinal garden.

If your kids aren’t into the Bard, then there’s more in Stratford.  The centre of the town is picturesque, with lots of little shops to look around.  There’s the Mechanical Art and Design (MAD) museum for kids – they can go nuts in here looking around all the hands on exhibitions.

The river Avon is very pretty, and runs through Stratford.  You can take boat cruises up and down, or just walk along the river banks.  An alternative visit is the brilliant Butterfly Farm which has 250 species of butterfly and other small animals – the leaf cutter ants are our favourite.

Getting to Stratford Upon Avon from London

Trains depart London Marylebone – some are direct to Stratford Upon Avon but most likely you’ll have to change at Leamington Spa.  The journey will take you around two hours, and I’d book in advance for the best prices.

Alternatively you can take a tour.  You could also combine your trip to Stratford with a stop in some of the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds, like Bibury and Bourton on the Water.  Click here for more information and to book this tour.

There are also plenty of things to do in the Cotswolds with kids if you’ve got more time.

Best castles and palaces to see on day trips from London with kids

Well, if you’re visiting the UK you’ll want to see some palaces and castles on your trip!  Here is a selection of the best castles and stately homes that you can see in a day trip from London.

And if you’ve got more time or you’d like more castle inspiration, take a look at the best castles in the UK here.

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle West Sussex Best castles in the UK

Arundel Castle is one of the best castles in the UK, but doesn’t often pop up on lists like these. I’m surprised it’s not a better known destination as a day trip from London with kids.  Arundel Castle is great for visitors of all ages as it’s got a variety of things to see and do. It’s nearly as grand as Windsor.  The castle itself is part stately home, with sumptuous interiors filled with all sorts of treasures.  Kids can gawp at suits of armour and weapons in the armoury, while adults will be awed by the great hall and the library.  The older parts of Arundel Castle show off its medieval origins; the keep dates back nearly 1000 years and is partly in ruins.

The gardens are equally as impressive as the castle.  Try to visit Arundel Castle for its annual tulip display; it’s magnificent (and we only caught the tail end of it).  But even if you don’t time your visit for the tulips the gardens are still a delight, especially the water features.

The historic market town of Arundel itself is very pretty and worth spending a little while looking around, and you can also walk down by the riverside or visit the Arundel Wetland Centre.

Read more about what to expect at Arundel Castle here.

How to get to Arundel from London

Trains depart from London Victoria to Arundel.  The journey should take around 90 minutes.  The train station isn’t in the centre of town so you’ll need to walk about a mile to get to the castle, although the views of the town are good along the way.

TIckets for Arundel Castle

Book tickets online in advance for the best prices.  There are several different tickets depending on what you want to see – I’d go for the most expensive ticket that gives you access to all areas of the castle and gardens.  Arundel Castle is open from the end of March to October, every day except Mondays.  Opening hours are from 10am to 5pm.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace makes a great day trip from London with kids

Hampton Court Palace was built by Cardinal Wolsey to impress Henry VIII in the early 16th Century.  Henry loved it so much that he visited it often, and eventually became its owner.  The palace was extended from 1689 by William III and Mary II, and they also had the beautiful gardens redesigned.  Since then many monarchs have made changes and you can see all of them as you walk through the palace.

The top things to see at Hampton Court Palace include Henry VIII’s kitchens where you can taste Tudor food; the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, William III’s apartments and several art galleries, not to mention the wonderful gardens.  Lovers of ghost stories will enjoy walking through the haunted gallery, where the ghost of Catherine Howard (beheaded by Henry VIII) is said to appear screaming for mercy.

Hampton Court Palace is also famous for its maze, which is a must do if you visit!  The Palace is great for kids as it puts on a variety of activities and events for families throughout the year, especially during school holidays and at weekends.  Kids will also love the Magic Garden, which is a huge playground with an amphitheatre and a dragon.

Personally, I think Hampton Court Palace is probably the best royal palace in the UK, and I’d choose it over the others in this list, but it all depends on your interests.

How to get to Hampton Court Palace from London

It’s easy to get to Hampton Court Palace from London.  Trains run from London Waterloo to Hampton Court station every 30 minutes.  Then it’s a five minute walk (or a bus ride) to the Palace.  The whole journey should take under an hour.

Tickets for Hampton Court Palace

Tickets can be bought online in advance.  You can get them direct or through a third party supplier.  Hampton Court Palace draws the crowds and it’s worth arriving as early as possible.

You’ll need to buy an extra ticket for the maze and the Magic Garden, and you can get this at the Palace when you arrive, unless you’ve bought a combination ticket from a third party.

The Magic Garden is open from March to October when it closes for the winter.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle - best day trips from London with kids

Other than Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle is probably the best known castle in the UK, and being the largest inhabited castle in the world, it’s certainly spectacular inside.  If you want a Royal fix in the UK, then Windsor’s the castle to come to.

Inside the castle you can tour the semi state rooms which are honestly pretty impressive.  Treasures are scattered around the castle; paintings, suits of armour, golden plates and more.  The castle burnt down in 1992 but you’d hardly know; the restoration has been well done. Kids will be enchanted by Queen Mary’s enormous, detailed dolls’ house which is more of a miniature museum than anything else.  When we visited Windsor there was a story telling session for small kids to listen to (ours weren’t in the mood though).  There are family events put on throughout the year.

In the grounds of the castle you’re able to visit the amazing St George’s Chapel (where recently, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle; and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank were married).  Ten kings and queens are buried here, including Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and Charles I.  The fan-vaulted ceiling and stained glass is amazing, and you’ll need a fair bit of time to look around properly.

The town of Windsor itself is also very attractive but can get really busy too.  You can just wander around the streets, and do head down near the river as it’s quite pretty down there.

Getting to Windsor from London and tips for your visit

As above for Legoland Windsor; take the train from London Paddington to Windsor and Eton and change at Slough.  Direct trains run from London Waterloo but they take longer.   I’d advise arriving before opening time; the queues outside the castle can be enormous.

If you have a car then beware.  Parking is difficult and there is none just for the castle so you’ll have to use a public car park.  Their machines only take cash and fill up fast, especially at weekends – arrive early!

Tickets and tours of Windsor Castle

Tickets can be bought online or through third party suppliers. Click here to buy tickets.  You should be aware that the semi-state rooms are only open between September and March so choose your timing carefully.

If you’re buying a London Pass for your visit to London then entry to Windsor Castle is included.  Click here to buy your London Pass.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is just on the outskirts of Oxford, by the village of Woodstock.  It’s one of England’s most beautiful palaces and has more than you might expect for kids to get up to.

Once you arrive, I’d recommend hitting the inside of the palace straight away.  There are some incredible frescoes painted on the walls and the rooms have some exquisite furnishings and objects.  You can visit an exhibition on Winston Churchill’s life as he was born here, and proposed to his wife in the grounds.

Kids will be more interested in the gardens than the inside of the palace.  Hop on the miniature train and take a short ride to the Pleasure Gardens.  There’s a large play area, a maze, miniature village,and In the summer you can visit the butterfly house too.  In the grounds around the house there are several walking trails through acres of beautifully designed gardens and parkland, so you can wear the kids out on a visit to Blenheim!

Read more about Blenheim Palace here.

How to get to Blenheim Palace from London

You will need to take the train to Oxford and then a special bus to Blenheim Palace.  These depart every 30 minutes – they are numbers 500 and S3.  The bus journey should be included in the price of your train ticket.

Alternatively you may wish to take a tour from London and stop in at a couple more locations along the way. You could go on a tour which takes you through some of the pretty villages in the Cotswolds.  Click here to find out more and book your tickets.

Hever Castle

Hever Castle, Kent - best day trips from London with kids

Hever Castle, nestled in the Kent countryside, is best known as being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.  It’s smaller than the other castles mentioned here, but if you’re interested in Tudor history then you’ve got to go!

Hever Castle dates from the 13th Century but Anne Boleyn is its most famous inhabitant.  There’s a lot of information on Anne’s life here, including some of her personal belongings.  The castle isn’t laid out as it would have been in Tudor times as much of the building was refurbished a hundred years ago by William Waldorf Aster, but he made a great job of it.   You can walk through the castle and take a look at historical exhibits, paintings and more.  Kids will love the portcullis and the drawbridge that can still be raised in the castle courtyard.

The gardens are fantastic, too.  Hever’s gardens have won awards for their beautifully planted beds (try to time your visit to see the amazing rose gardens), and there’s more than just flowers here.  Activities in the gardens include two mazes (a traditional yew hedge maze and a water maze which will splash you if you tread on the wrong stone), or a walk around the lake where you can hire boats or pedaloes in the summer.

Hever Castle puts on lots of activities throughout the year, with many aimed at children in particular.  There are craft activities, jousting tournaments during the summer holidays, and a huge playground with a toddler area and a castle with roof maze for older kids.  It’s definitely a full day out!

How to get to Hever Castle from London

Trains run from London Bridge station to Hever Station (some are direct; others you may need to change).  The journey is about 40 minutes so quite quick. Hever Castle is a mile away from the train station (which has no taxis).  You can download a map of the walk on the Hever Castle website.

Alternatively go to Edenbridge Town Station and take a taxi to Hever Castle (prebooking recommended).  Trains run to Edenbridge Town Station from London Bridge and London Victoria (change at Oxted or East Croydon).

Tickets for Hever Castle

Buy tickets for Hever Castle online in advance for the best prices. Hever Castle is open most of the year but closed during January and most of February.

Warwick CastleWarwick Castle Keep, Warwickshire

Warwick Castle is probably the most traditional-looking castle in this list, however it’s also the one that is the most touristy.  It’s run by Merlin Entertainment which means that there’s a lot of things to see but not all of it is authentic as you might want; it does feel a bit like a theme park in places. However that didn’t bother us when we went – we had a brilliant day.  I’d also say that this means that Warwick Castle is probably the most kid-oriented castle you can visit from London in a day.

There’s so much to see and do at Warwick Castle.  As well as looking around the interior, which is fantastic, as you’d expect, you can walk around the walls and explore loads of activities in the grounds. A highlight for us was watching their huge trebuchet catapult a blazing ball several hundred metres.  There’s eagle displays, a dungeon (not suitable for small kids) a maze and more.  The kids loved meeting the costumed guides and my daughter especially enjoyed her visit to the Princess Tower.

Read more about a visit to Warwick Castle here.

How to get to Warwick Castle from London

Direct trains depart from London Marylebone to Warwick every half hour.  The journey takes about 1 hour 45 minutes.  The train station is about a 15 minute walk from the castle.

Tickets can be bought online, direct or through third party suppliers.  Don’t buy on the door on the day; it’s twice as expensive.  If you’ve got a Merlin pass then entry to Warwick Castle is free.

You could combine Warwick Castle with a visit to some of the other attractions in this list, if you don’t mind getting through them quickly.  Take a look at this tour which combines Warwick, Stratford, Oxford and Cotswolds villages.  Click here for more information.


Have you got a favourite day trip from London that you think we should include?  Let us know in the comments; we’ll visit and add it!

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What are the best day trips from London with kids? 18 family friendly day trips from London by train: the best attractions, castles and cities to visit in a day from London. Includes Paris, Bath, York, and Harry Potter Studio Tour. #daytripsfromlondon #england #familytravel #london #travel

What are the best day trips from London with kids? 18 family friendly day trips from London by train: the best attractions, castles and cities to visit in a day from London. Includes Paris, Bath, York, and Harry Potter Studio Tour. #daytripsfromlondon #england #familytravel #london #travel

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